Email Marketing Strategy

A Curated Look at 100+ Email Predictions

This is the third year we have collected and curated email marketing predictions. It looks as if it’s the year of the platform, the emails sent, and the details/design of their content.

The top 4 categories for 2018 are emails and ESPs, content, data analysis, and segmentation/personalization. This is the same top 4 categories as 2017, but in a different order. Data analysis slips from 1st to 3rd place and is surpassed by emails and ESPs for the number one slot.  

We have summarized the predictions by category and charted all 3 years on the first tab of this spreadsheet, the second tab provides the prediction details, the prognosticators and links to the references.

Emails and ESPs

It’s the end of ESPs as we knew them. No longer do ESPs just talk about sending newsletters. Over the past year we have seen a multitude of deep data integrations with ecomm store data, Facebook and Google ad serving, the inclusion of web based behavioral triggers, landing pages and native CRMs taking the place of simple email lists.

ESPs are becoming command centers for digital outreach on all levels. We will see omnichannel commerce become unified commerce. And with the barrage of emails and other digital communication at an ecomm cadence, the concern becomes the passive opt-out.

To keep consumers engaged, email content will become shorter, more relevant, and easier to act upon.

Content

Content will be the answer to engaging the consumer in 2018. Every trick in the book will be used to get emails open, including typography, interactive features, video, text only emails, and yes, emojis! 🙂 

In the end, what will really succeed, is speaking (writing) in a natural voice, being sincere and consistent with your message, and sending shorter, one goal communications.

Data Analysis

So why has data analysis slipped to third? We think its because the conversation is switching from analyzing data, to the real world application of making platforms more inclusive, content more relevant and moving us forward toward 1 to 1 communications.

Data analysis will continue to improve how we relate to our customers and predictive analytics will lead customers down paths that are yet to be discovered by them. Machine learning and AI are already beginning to handle more of the complex interaction we are taking for granted.

Chatbots will continue to supplement customer service and support. This year they will begin to evolve beyond the hype of machine learning and actually become useful in helping grow sales.

Segmentation

With all the deep data integrations and use of machine learning, hyper-segmentation is possible on a grand scale. Tying this all together will create better personalization and a deeper understanding of customer evolution. A better understanding of our customer’s behavior will create a longer lifetime value.

Automation

Marketing automation evolves beyond just a welcome series or a bunch of emails just to keep the sales funnel full. Automation will be used to keep customers once you get them.

Automation using AI technologies will make emails more human. It will also make automations easier to use for small businesses.  

Ads

Brands will continue to use Facebook for advertising, but will need to fine tune their messages for higher quality as Facebook puts priority back on the individual and away from brands. Influencer marketing will gain greater attention within the FB walled garden as an influencer’s profile is closer the a friend’s and may be more prominent in a user’s news feed.

Messenger ad testing will become more prevalent and retargeting spends will be optimized.

Security

Security issues for email lists have been somewhat quelled by instituting SSL certificates on web pages and Captchas on signup forms. The conversation is shifting more towards privacy and personal data protection as the implementation of GDPR nears.

Social

Social influencers will continue to play a significant role in marketing, but we will also see a shift toward a more constrained and thoughtful use of these influencers as the political and behavioral missteps of the past bring light to ramifications of poor choices.   

Mobile

Mobile purchasing will reach a tipping point. While mobile shopping has already reached a tipping point, in the coming year we will see mobile shopping sales come closer to that of desktop.  

Web

Sales will finally realize the importance of a homepage.

List Growth

List growth didn’t even make the cut this year. It seems the conversation this year will revolve more around how to keep your list fresh and engaged, rather than just the size of your list.

Summary

We look forward to seeing how these predictions unfold through the year.  Although blockchain technology and email tokens didn’t enter the picture in this year’s predictions, you can bet your last bitcoin this year will see some innovative attempts of trying to use the technology in email marketing.

 

What’s stopping you? 12 Reasons Your Emails Aren’t Making It to the Inbox

Let’s say you have 100,000 names on your subscriber list and an email deliverability rate of 50%. What’s the value of all those many names on your list? Exactly. Half what is could be.

You’ll probably never achieve a 100% inbox penetration, but given the low cost an upside potential of emails, you should get your deliverability rate as high as can be and keep it that way.

1) You bought an email list.

Seriously? It’s 2017 and that’s not cool and thanks to services like BlackBox, your ESP will find out.

2) You didn’t ramp up your IP address slowly and carefully.

Or maybe you didn’t ramp up your new IP address at all? If you’ve switched ESPs or for some other reason you migrated to a new IP address, you should have taken steps to slowly, carefully and methodically start emailing your list, building a reputation as you go. If you didn’t, that’s going to work against your email deliverability for a long while.

3) You’re sending to people who didn’t opt in.

I mean, these people or your customers but they didn’t ask to receive your promotional email. This has always been a sticky subject. Now it’s a big deal because of the Canadian anti-spam law (CASL), which is much more strict in defining opt in compared to the CAN Spam law passed by the U.S. Read the rules. Follow them. And only send to people who really want to hear from you.

4) You’re acting like a spammer.

Sure, you might not think you’re acting like a spammer but someone somewhere does. There are all kinds of ways to act like a spammer. If you’re using all capital letters, dirty HTML, or words and phrases that trigger spam filters, you’re acting like a spammer. And spammers get blocked.

5) Your sender reputation sucks.

As with real life, your reputation precedes you. And the ISPs will use your reputation to keep your email out of their customers’ inboxes if they believe you to be a spammer or unwanted sender. You can find out your sender reputation here and then take steps to fix it.

6) You have a dusty email list.

As tedious as it might sound, list hygiene is an important part of your email deliverability so scrub your undeliverable emails. There are lots of companies that offer list verification, some good, some not so good. That’s why we created this simple email verification recommendation service to help you find the best companies with the best rates.

7) You’re in a shared IP pool with some bad company.

This is one of those email deliverability issues you can’t tackle alone. If you’re in a shared IP pool with email marketers who don’t follow best practices, their reputation mars yours. Talk to your ESP about this.

8) You’re boring.

Ho hum yaaaaawwwn…. Oh, sorry! Did you say something? If your email messages fail to excite, compel or engage, your subscribers are probably not bothering to open your emails—and that tells the ISPs that you’re spam, since you’re being ignored. Be so good they can’t ignore you. Services like Phrasee can help ensure your emails get opened.

9) You send too many emails too often.

Spam is in the eyes of the beholder, and you don’t get to say whether you’re spam or not. They do. Who’s they? The people on your email list. Most spam reports aren’t due to emails promoting land in Costa Rica or Nigerian princes in need. No, most spam reports are generated by people who just don’t want your email any longer. Period. When you send too many emails too often, you’re annoying, and people will report those emails as spam in order to stop getting them. Send better email or slow your roll.

10) You’re not listening to the ISPs.

Do you have an abuse@yourdomain.com email address? If not, set one up, so ISPs can easily contact you about issues. If you’re messing up, they’re not going to mess around trying to contact you. Make it easy for them to be proactive on your behalf.

11) You’re not authentic.

What kinds of authentication are you using to prove to the world that you are who you say you are? Commonly used types of authentication are SPF, DKIM and DMARC. If you’re not using any of these, it’s time to start. Authentication protects your sender reputation, publishes the mail servers that can send on your behalf, and offers a way to identify your email as really being from you.

12) You ignore your email reporting.

If you don’t know something’s broke, how are you supposed to fix it? Keep a constant eye on your email reporting, and you’ll spot the downward trend that tells you a problem is brewing. Or maybe there’s no trend, only trouble, and you suddenly can’t email anyone with a certain address because you’re now blocked by an ISP. Wouldn’t you rather know in real time when there’s a problem you need to fix? Then pay attention to your email reporting—on a regular basis.

OK, be honest now: Out of these 12 things, which ones are you guilty of? And when are you going to stop doing them? Because the sooner you stop, the sooner your emails will get into more inboxes. And that, my friend, gives every one of those names a lot more value…and potential for ROI.

The difference between B2B and B2C email marketing

As B2B marketers we tend to look at others for inspiration. To innovate we often take what other marketing organizations have done and built on those ideas to improve and make them more interesting. When it comes to using email marketing to develop leads, though, there is one tricky part of the equation. There are B2B emails and there are B2C emails and they are not identical twins.

In this post, we’ll look at the differences between B2B email marketing and B2C email marketing. You’ll want to pay attention because while some of the methodologies are the same the differences are important because the outreach strategy for one might not work for the other.

B2B Email Marketing

B2B opportunities tend to be large. There are exceptions on both sides of the fence. There are small purchases in B2B and large purchases in B2C, but in general, the large purchases lean toward the business-to-business world.

Because the purchases are larger there should be more marketing in B2B email marketing than sales. There are many different reasons why people subscribe, not all tied directly to sales but rest assured people don’t sign up just because they are in the mood to be sold to.

What does this mean?

By now, all B2B companies know that from the time a new prospect is initially reached, the emails should work to guide, educate and qualify the prospect – like a salesperson might do. Nobody ever bought a house based on one email. In B2B email marketing, you have to respect the buying stage that the prospect is in and that it will take many more contact moments before a sale is made.

The first email might include a high-level overview of the features and, client-focused, benefits, but it can largely be a follow up of your content incentives used for lead generation. Subsequent emails will often provide additional insight into the industry, and eventually, additional products and services offered by the company.

The entire process,  one that works in concert with your CRM system, web analytics, and sales team, is about presenting the problems that exist and taking the prospective client down the path of solving that issue. Remember, that being persistent is often what will drive success.

B2C Email Marketing

A common scenario is to see an email that puts the pressure on your to purchase. Email marketing and urgency go hand in hand in B2C email marketing. You’ll see a sale that is ending soon and you have to act now otherwise you’ll miss the promotion. Urgency is actually one of the areas where B2C and B2B are similar. B2Bs do try to get urgency attached to their offer too but at the risk of it being less believable than it is in the B2C arena.

Of course, that is a grand generalization, but B2C companies tend to be more aggressive in tone. B2C email marketing is the fact that many acquisition-focused campaigns are directly sales-focused. This means that the email is about getting to a sale, quickly. Purchase price tends to be on the small side for B2C products so the sales process is more impulsive and quick. Just have a look at the call-to-actions like “Buy now”, “Pre-order”, “Shop”, etc.

You might see an email that introduces a new product. The expectation is that you immediately become interested in the item and make the purchase. Email is an ideal medium for impulse buys. Sometimes even without showing you the actual product yet. It might work, but if you think of it is pretty bizarre.  Here is an example of that in an email from Neiman Marcus.

Nieman-Marcus Email
(Image courtesy of Notablist.com)

Although there are still there are some differences here in adoption rate for the B2C and B2B audiences, you can expect all of your emails nowadays to be read on mobile. Do we need to go mobile first? At least make sure your email all incorporate best practices for responsive email design.

Finally, B2C emails tend to not follow along welcome series, once the prospect becomes a customer or opts-in. It is usually not longer than one or two emails until the program flips back to “standard newsletter”- mode. This is in contrast to some advanced B2B email marketing campaigns who well know client cultivation.

Final Thoughts B2B vs. B2C Email Marketing

These differences in B2B and B2C email marketing are important to note. If you understand the differences you can really focus in on what will work best for your company.

On some occasions, you can use inspiration from one for the other. It might be a way to get a little edge on the competition.

Send Less Email? Yes. No. Maybe. It Depends.

Send Less Email? Yes. No. Maybe. It All Depends.

The other day I got an email promoting a guide on how sending less email could generate more revenue. The guide wasn’t much help, but it got me to thinking…

What I started thinking about is the question, should you send less email? And my answer is yes. If you are sending generic emails that aren’t targeted to your subscribers nor of interest to them, then yes, you should definitely send less email.

“But sending more email is how I generate more ROI!,” some email marketers will complain.

OK, I’ll give you that. Sending more email means you’re getting into more inboxes and increasing the likelihood of conversions. However, sending higher numbers of emails that are more about what you want to say and less about what your subscribers want to see will also generate:

  • Spam complaints
  • Unsubscribes
  • Ill will
  • Deliverability issues

Sending more email might increase sales, but it also might result in negative consequences.

Why some marketers need to email less often

But I don’t really believe marketers should send less email. I know from experience that sending more email really does work—when they are the right kind of emails!

When you look at the research, however, it does seem like we might as a whole be sending too many emails in the eyes of the consumers. One study has downright gloomy numbers, with 69% saying they unsubscribe because they are getting too many emails.

However, the problem isn’t that marketers send too many emails, per se. The problem is those marketers who send too many irrelevant emails—because consumers don’t want the irrelevant emails, or at least not so many of them.

According to one study on consumers views on email marketing:

  • 43% want less email from businesses
  • 24.2% want emails that are more informative
  • 23.9%  want more personalized emails

If you add those two bottom numbers together, you get almost the same percentage as the first number. That tells me that wanting less email yet wanting better email probably go hand in hand.

In fact, if you send email your subscribers want to get—targeted, relevant, personalized, timely—then that 43% number would probably go down. Why? Because what consumers are really saying when they say, “I want less email from businesses” is really, “I want better email from businesses.”

Send better email, not less email

As I said at the beginning, if you’re sending generic, one-size-fits-all emails that aren’t targeted, relevant or timely, then please: Send less email. You’re making everything harder for all of us. (Note the statistics cited above for proof!)

On the other hand, if you want to do a better job, to create and send emails your subscribers eagerly await, open and act upon, then send better email, not less. What’s better email? Email that’s of interest to each subscriber individually.

Better email is what happens when you segment, putting subscribers into like-minded groups based on basics such as gender and geography, then later based on specifics such as browsing behavior and purchase history.

Better email happens when you choose to put the subscriber first and send information that’s personalized (sound familiar?) to what you know about them based on the data you’re collecting.

Better email happens when you deliver dynamic content to ensure personalization.

Better email is also what happens when you pay attention and get proactive about your inactives.

Send better email, get better results

So now you have to choose: send fewer or send better. Since targeted types of emails perform better, I hope your obvious choice is the “send better” choice. Because they are emails consumers want to receive, they improve your:

  • Engagement
  • Deliverability
  • Open rates
  • Click-through rates
  • Conversion rates
  • And ROI!

Sounds like savvy marketing to me!

Bonus point: Giving consumers control can help

Does your brand have a preference center, or any other way for subscribers to tell you how frequently they want to hear from you? If not, think about it. An article in MarketingProfs.com says 40% of respondents would decide not to unsubscribe if only a brand would let them change the frequency of the emails they’re receiving. It lets the subscriber go from “too many” emails to “just enough”—rather than none at all, which is nothing but bad for business.

The danger of too few emails

Simply decreasing the number of emails you send is not the answer. You could email too infrequently as a result. When you’re not emailing often enough, you’re risking your brand, sender reputation and deliverability. So it’s not as if you can make up some number that is “the” best number of emails for you to send in a given period of time.

Choose instead to improve, but also test to find that sweet spot where your frequency is high yet your unsubscribe rate is low. But most importantly, choose to improve.

And really it keeps coming back to one simple fact: When subscribers get content they want to get, you can email them more often and not annoy them…at all.

Want to Rock Your Email Marketing in 2017? Skip the Sexy Stuff and Master These 4 Fundamentals First

Which new and innovative marketing tactics are you planning to introduce in 2017? You have plenty of ideas to choose from, like augmented reality and Instagram photo contests, to name just a few.

But—despite the draw of these sometimes spectacularly popular ideas (like the craziness of Pokémon Go in 2016)—email is still the most preferred brand communication channel for pretty much everyone of every age, including Baby Boomers (73%), Generation X (71%), Millennials (62%) and Generation Z (65%). Yes, even Millennials prefer email. Forget the Millennial myth. Millennials do use email, and it’s their preferred way to hear from businesses like yours.

Email still matters

This is no small point I’m making here: No matter how many fancy schmancy ways retailers try to market to customers, those customers by and large still prefer email over other channels as the means by which they want to hear from those retailers. Sure they might have a blast tracking down a Pikachu or snapping a picture of their dog with a beer, but that’s not about your communications with them.

It’s easy to be distracted by the new and shiny when they go viral and they’re all over social media, but the facts are that email still matters for any marketer trying to increase revenue. So make sure your email program is constantly improving in 2017.

Master the fundamentals first

Be careful not to get sucked in by all the new, shiny, sexy, trendy stuff (cough cough beacons cough cough) while ignoring the fundamentals. Chasing the latest and greatest isn’t a bad thing. But it is an unnecessary thing if you haven’t mastered the basic building blocks of a strong email marketing program first.

So what should you really be focused on in 2017—before you start planning for a viral virtual marketing campaign or trying out some new technology that still has a low adoption rate? In my opinion, mindful of the fact that email still matters as much as it does, there are four fundamentals you should master before moving on to any other kind of digital marketing. Those four fundamentals are:

  1. Mobile
  2. Personalization
  3. Automation
  4. Testing

Fundamental 1: Mobile

Maybe you’re sick of hearing about mobile marketing by now. Maybe you’ve mastered it. Not all marketers have, however, and that’s going to work against those who haven’t. Although the numbers vary regarding the percentage of consumers checking email on a mobile device, those numbers are all high—and increasing.

What does it mean to master mobile? To deliver emails that render well, no matter the device they’re viewed on, and to offer landing pages that mobile friendly as well. If your email shows up on a smartphone and looks like crap, it will probably be deleted or at least ignored. And if your email looks good but a click-through leads to a clunky web experience, you’re probably going to lose that prospect at that point.

Lesson? Master mobile.

Fundamental 2: Personalization

If you don’t want to personalize your email marketing because you don’t think it’s worth the trouble, you’ve been outvoted: Consumers think it’s worth the trouble, and they expect it. According to a Mapp infographic,

  • 77% expect email marketing to be personalized based on information they’ve submitted about their profile;
  • 76% expect email marketing to be personalized based on past purchases;
  • and 62% expect email marketing to be personalized based on browsing behavior.

Privacy is no longer the concern it used to be because consumers are willing to give up some privacy in exchange for email marketing content that’s relevant and interesting to them.

You have multiple opportunities to gather data about customers. Do so, and use it. Segment your audiences. Personalize your content. Offer a preference center that lets your consumers have a say in the kind of emails they get and the frequency with which they get them.

Fundamental 3: Automation

Depending on your email service provider or inhouse solution, you’ll have varied options for automating your email, but you should take advantage of every one in order to reduce your workload and improve your efficiencies. Here are just a few ways you can use automation for better email marketing in 2017:

  • Send a welcome series to a new subscriber or customer.
  • Use triggered emails to send personalized emails based on a user’s behavior, such as a subscription, download or purchase.
  • Automate the personalizing of content.
  • Automate your email reporting.
  • Have a re-activation campaign in place that starts automatically after X months of inactivity.

If you’re not yet using automation and triggered emails, develop a strategy for doing so. Onboard new customers after a purchase or if you’re B2B marketer, develop a piece of content to offer that you can follow up with a drip campaign.

Fundamental 4: Testing

Although Jay Baer is talking about content marketing when he says it should be about “test, test, test not guess, guess, guess,” you can make the same argument for email marketing. Test always and test everything. Think beyond your subject lines to test everything that’s part of the three fundamentals described above. Test your mobile marketing.

Test for the kinds of personalization that perform better than others. Do you customers want personalized content? How about testing for frequency? Do you know your ideal cadence? Does it differ between one segment and the next, with one group wanting more emails and another wanting fewer? In one study, 41% of respondents said they prefer a weekly email and only 8% want a daily one. How will you know which your customers prefer if you don’t test?

You need to test in order to maximize gathering information for your personalization too. Just how much can you ask for on a signup page? Can you ask for gender, age and ZIP code? Or do people start dropping like flies when you add just one more field? Test and optimize those forms so you can optimize your personalization.

Test for the best ways to use automation. How many emails should you use in a triggered welcome series? Two, four, one? Test and find out.

There will always be something to test just as there will always be something to tempt you away from these fundamentals. And tempted you may be! As long as you have your mobile marketing, personalization, automation and testing rock solid, your email marketing will rock in 2017—and then you can go after the shiny new stuff and have a little fun!

The Holiday Email Marketing Balancing Act

The Holiday Email Marketing Balancing Act: Turning Email Volume Up and Down to Capitalize on the Giving Season

Turning Email Volume Up and Down to Capitalize on the Giving Season

Has your email inbox gotten more crowded since the holiday email marketing season has begun? Of course it has. Now email after email hits my inbox, most of them from brands I buy from, but definitely in a higher volume than usual.

That’s not unusual, as you know. Marketers send more email during the holidays. Last year, email volume increased 23% over the previous year. And it will likely do the same thing this year, because research shows and experience supports that sending more email equals more revenue.

But here’s the thing: Even if the increase in frequency you’re doing is optimized, your customers are also on the receiving end of everyone else’s increase in frequency too. So to maximize your revenue and good will consider these simple tactics this season.

Send more of the right kind of email
You’re not doing anything wrong by sending more email, but you do risk generating some ill will because you become part of that cumulative onslaught. With that in mind, here’s an idea: To make sure you’re maximizing your effect (and ROI) during the holiday email influx, maybe you should decrease the number of other emails you usually send.

Turn down the one…
“What?”,  you’re probably thinking. “Send less email??” Yes, less email, but I don’t mean your holiday campaigns. I mean your non-holiday drip campaigns, triggered emails that are unrelated to buying.

…and turn up the other
Then turn up the volume on your holiday email marketing. Send more one-off bespoke campaigns, or do something simple like resending campaigns to non-openers using different subjects lines. Also send more behavior-based or transaction-based triggers like cart abandonment and browse abandonment emails, as well as “you might also like” cross-selling and up-selling emails. Rather than send more of all kinds of email, focus on sending more of the emails that are appropriate to this busy buying time of year.

Taking this approach is also an opportunity to stand out: Given that email is so valuable this time of year, it might be a good time to take some of your programs off auto-pilot and opt for creative campaigns that stand out in the inbox instead.

An email marketing self-improvement plan (you can actually stick with).

email marketing self-improvement plan

January will soon be here and with it the New Year’s Resolutions. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, these resolutions are part of the fabric of our lives these days, and they do have the potential to motivate…even if we don’t make a serious change as a result of making resolutions.

However, if you’re feeling like your career could use a boost, a resolution to improve might be just the ticket. Maybe work has become drudgery, or you think you’re doing repetitive motions with the same email marketing methods day after day or month after month. Or perhaps you know you’re falling behind the curve and you want to get ahead of it once again. Even if none of these apply, self-improvement is always a good goal to pursue, but especially in an industry that changes as quickly as ours does.

To make that self-improvement easy to pursue, I’ve put together a plan for you for 2017, as your step-by-step guide to getting better at email—and your job—every day, week and month of the year.

Daily: Make time to read
Spend 15-20 minutes a day reading about email marketing. Find one or two email marketing blogs or newsletters that you get a lot out of, and commit to keeping up with them. I know this part is hard. I sit down to my computer and get so wrapped up in the work to be done, the emails to be answered, and the calls to be returned that I don’t always stick to my plan to educate myself daily. Strive to make it a habit, however, and you will learn and improve, little by little, every single day. If you’re not sure where to start, you can always count on MarketingProfs.com to provide great content, and email geeks such as ChadJordie, and Loren regularly offer great information.

Weekly: Participate in a LinkedIn group
Join an email-focused LinkedIn group—and participate in it, or at least be sure to pay attention to the conversations. My personal bias/favorite is Email Gurus but there are several others to choose from. If you’re really committed, you’ll pay attention daily, but if that’s too much, subscribe to the weekly email digest to see what has happened and been discussed…and to chime in if appropriate.

Monthly: Read a marketing book
You’re not going to find a new email marketing book published each month, but just as email marketing is made up of many parts, so should your education be. Books on persuasion, copywriting, design principles, social media, buying behavior and the like should all be on your list. If you’re not sure what’s new and recommended, check out this list at Forbes.com. Also consider the classics such as just about anything by Seth Godin, “Selling the Invisible” by Harry Beckwith, and “How To Win At B2B Email Marketing” by Adam Holden-Bache or  any of the books on this list of 10 classics.

Semi-annually: Do your competitive research
This might be some of the best self-education you’ll do! Set up a fake email address, subscribe to their emails, and start taking notes use or pay for services like Notablist or eDataSource. But if you’re more budget minded you can find all kinds of tips for doing a competitive analysis by Googling the topic, but don’t get too wrapped up in the approach. The main thing is to just do it—and learn from it.

Annually: Attend a major email marketing conference
If you’re lucky enough to live in big city with active marketing groups putting on regular events, take advantage of those. Whether or not you have that opportunity for ongoing education, however, do try to attend one big conference per year. You’ll get a big huge dose of new knowledge, but you’ll also get re-invigorated as you network with peers, share stories and gain a fresh perspective. (And hey, a little time away from the office can re-energize us too!)

Here are some conferences to consider:

That short list is literally just the tip of the iceberg, and it could be the timing, the travel or the cost won’t work for you. Don’t despair! Choose something else that does work, even if it’s not as big in scale. For more possibilities, see this comprehensive list pulled together by MarketingTerms. It’s not email specific, but it’s a good place to look for conferences during a certain time of year or in a certain location. Also be sure to check the DMA’s calendar for all kinds of different marketing events.

This list looks doable, right? So do it. Make 2017 a year to go from so-so to stellar in your email marketing career by tapping into all of the many resources you have available for self-improvement.

What I learned after reading 116 email marketing predictions.

You’ve seen them… “Top email trends for 2016”, “Where is email headed in the year to come?” “2016 email marketing predictions”.

In an effort to makes sense of it all I compiled hundreds of prophecies, from nearly as many pundits, and broke down their predictions into 12 categories.

As you see in the chart below I ranked each category by how often the prediction occurred. I then pulled together the most common threads within each category and mashed up the predictions into a consensus of my own.

chart

Segmentation

Most agree that consumers are becoming smarter than ever and marketers will rise to the occasion to satisfy their needs. Specifically, 2016 will finally be the era of the hyper-targeted personalized messaging that will be relevant around platform, location, and product. Emails and websites alike will be customized with dynamic content derived from data-driven decision making based on the individual as brand and direct marketing converge to create a unique experience for each consumer.  In other words, communicate with your customer with a high degree of relevancy and contextual material, minus the creepiness, or risk being ex-communicated forever.

For the complex B2B customer sell, where long sales cycles, high dollar amounts/sale and many people involved in the buyer side of the equation, account-based marketing will take center stage.

Emails and ESPs

According to all of our pundits, not only is email alive it’s in a renaissance. What’s more, emails will no longer need to be coded and are infinitely configurable and controllable with templated drag and drop technology that anybody can use. Emails will be succinct with just the right amount of personalization and dynamic content tailored to the viewer.

You will be able to purchase product direct from your interactive emails and be delighted with the improved quality of the messaging. All email styles will render properly in Gmail and Outlook will shrink in market share.

As for Email Service Providers (ESPs) there will be further consolidation in the ESP market and we can expect the pace of M&A activity to quicken with at least one major ESP being acquired and lots of smaller companies being gobbled up.

Automation

From the moment your customer first signs up for communications, the well thought out welcome series will begin to fire and with every visit to your website, mobile app or social page, you will send the well targeted, relevant message through the appropriate channel all the while enriching your dynamic segments with the new data.

When your customer is out shopping, that ibeacon will trigger, sending unique coupon codes tailored for perfect tracking and customer conversion. Social and automation will combine in new ways and as the shopper hops in their connected car, your systems triggers posts to Facebook about their great bargains and turns up the heat at home through IoT, it all becomes a seamless customer experience.

Content

Content is still king in 2016. Interactive, embedded and animated content are set to drive increased engagement for the year. The most mentioned form for content for this year is video. A picture is worth a thousand words so video has that in spades. The challenge will be to use the medium for engagement that is contextual to your brand and not just to show another cat video, unless of course you’re selling cat food. The increased use of live video also gets a mention.

Social

According to some pundits, Social media is set to take over or at least gain more recognition. Buy buttons will become more prevalent. The focus of the day will be advocate marketing. This will occur in both employee advocacy for your company and brand advocacy through loyal consumers and social influencers.

Mobile

Mobile usage will continue to rise and the mobile experience will become more consistent across email, web and social. This will be facilitated by Google app indexing, responsive and adaptive design. Searchable deep links will take you right where you want to be in the app. Within apps themselves you will see more cross-app navigation options.

And don’t forget to design your campaigns to include the Apple and Fitbit watches. It looks like they are here to stay and will continue to evolve to other untethered devices.

Data Analysis

2016 is proclaimed to be the year of artificial intelligence and the rise of the machines. At the very least harnessing of unstructured data will continue to drive marketing decisions and asset allocation across various channels. We will also gain greater control of omni-channel touchpoints that will drive the hyper targeting a messages mentioned in segmentation.

List Growth

Lightbox sign-up forms will dominate as the method for gaining new subscribers, but be sure to tinker with timing and subscriber psychology in your call to action to get the most qualified contacts and optimized conversion rate. In 2016 marketers will ask for only the minimum amount of information (email) to keep the friction down.

Ads

Ad blocking as announced by Apple will drive efforts to refine target segments, message relevance and contextual format.  Consumers want to be spoken to in a way that matters. So if you’re going to serve up ads make them as native and un-intrusive as possible.

The introduction of Google audiences and Facebook custom/lookalike audiences will deliver ads to recipients based more on behavior than demographics. ESPs are already creating tighter integrations around dynamic customer lists and automatic feeds to custom/lookalike ad platforms.

Web

Go responsive, secure and load quick or go home. Lack of these features is certain death as more and more consumers search mobile so being mobile relevant is an absolute necessity in this age of retreating attention spans. If you do show in search but can’t load with speed you’ll be dropped as quick as if you were never on the radar.

Security

Data and fraud protection reforms are on the way for 2016. The email industry will see a noticeable shift in privacy and security reforms from both the sender and recipient sides. Websites will continue to move to SSL protection as well.

In closing:

New Year predictions are a lot like New Year resolutions. Both are made with great optimism and a bold look to the future. Only time will tell what holds true. We’re looking forward to all the possibilities for improvement this year and hope all the predictions crystallize.


Art by Jay Jacobs // Jay Jacobs Art

Words by Gerald Marshall // Email Industries


 

Want better email results? Keep THIS in mind at all times.

Email Attention Spans

The average adult now has a shorter attention span than a goldfish.

There’s a little irony afoot: Although we’ve been battling tiny phone screens with the growing dominance of mobile device usage, those screens have been getting increasingly larger. Yet that doesn’t mean attention spans are getting any bigger.

So even if your prospects have moved up from the 4-inch screen phone to the 5.5-inch screen, that doesn’t mean their attention spans have followed suit—quite the opposite. We live in a world that is constantly vying for our attention, and we therefore have ever less attention to devote to any one thing…including email.

You’re not going to change that. You’re probably a victim of it too. (Hey! Are you paying attention? Facebook can wait. Stay focused. You’re already halfway through this post, and this is important…)

What you can do is—pardon the choice of words—pay attention. It starts with awareness. Know your audience is quickly scanning their inboxes on their phones, swiping mercilessly, and then judging harshly if they do pause long enough to open an email.

You have to do everything you can to stand out in the inbox.

I mean everything. Pull out all the stops. Don’t tweak a subject line and add a pop of red to your email design and call it good. I mean go for broke. Imagine your audience is made up of three-year-olds and how hard you would have to work to grab and keep their attention, and then after all of that, get them to do something.

Now take that mindset and apply it to your mobile email marketing. Break down every little element and make it pop, sizzle and compel:

  • From name or address: If you haven’t considered a compelling From name for your mobile email marketing, you are long overdue. Look at it objectively and be ruthless. You know sales@worldsworstemail.com is a sucky From name. Do something about it.
  • Subject line: And your subject lines—are yours brilliant or blah? Would you open that email on your smart phone or pass it right on by? You have to be bold here, and you have to be willing to test and test and test again.
  • Preheader text: Another area that has to just rock is the preheader Think of this like teaser text instead, and how you will tease your recipient into dying to open your email.
  • Content: OK, you got them to open it! Next your content has to rock! You need laser sharp focus here. Get to the point immediately. And then stick to it. One message per mobile email. Period. Make it super scannable—think bullet points and short text and icons and color blocks and everything that can chunk up your template and visually deliver it in bite-sized pieces. Short. Short. Short. Short.
  • Email design: Pop pop pop! Make that email design something they can’t take their eyes off of! Images, color, contrast, type—use them wisely and use them well, my friend, so you can get those openers to the…
  • …call to action: Your call to action has to be crystal clear. And compelling. If you’ve gotten them this far, don’t lose them now! Test repeatedly until you figure out what this call to action has to be to compel them to click!

Your email anatomy has to differ for mobile marketing, but your mindset does too. You no longer have the luxury of generic From names, mindless preheaders, wishy washy content, or blah design. Attention spans have shrunk. They will only continue to do so. The time to get noticed is now.


Art by Justin M. Buoni // Just Justin Art

Words by Scott Hardigree // Email Industries


 

18 Excuses for Sending More Email

Ideas for sending more email

 

Most marketers would like to send a few extra emails out to their subscribers, to stay top of mind and possibly generate a few more sales. But there’s always the possibility of over-mailing if your not providing value.

If all of your emails are “buy now” ones, then, yes, you’ll most definitely be annoying if you send more of those. However, if you get even just a little bit creative, you can come up with all kinds of excuses to send more email—that subscribers will like to get.

To get your creative juices, we offer up 18 such ideas below…

There are—of course—the obvious reasons to send more email that you’re probably already doing:

  1. “Thank you for your order” emails
  1. Shipping confirmations

But why not keep them in the loop and send an email somewhere between the order being placed and the order being shipped? Why not a…

  1. “We’re working on your order” email?

Also, those “thank you” emails that you send when someone buys, registers or subscribes can be turned into something more, when you do a welcome series that can be just one email or several.

  1. Use a welcome email to acknowledge that someone has joined your list, and then follow up with a series of emails that educate them about your brand.

And on that note, you can…

  1. Do about anything as a series, and that gives you several excuses to email. You can do a “how to” series, for example, just as how to clean/use/maintain/get the most out of something they just bought or downloaded.

Then there’s introducing them to something new, while staying relevant to what they’ve already bought or expressed an interest in:

  1. “You might also like” emails aren’t just for retail. B2B marketers can use them too, to promote additional webinars or whitepapers, for example.

Another way to send more email is by asking your subscribers and customers for input. These kinds of emails not only give you an excuse to show up in the inbox, but can gather you invaluable information as well:

  1. Ask for feedback on a recent purchase, download or webinar.
  1. Ask for feedback on the emails you regularly send. You could ask for the input on the offers, content, frequency and/or design.
  1. Ask for feedback on a website redesign you’re considering or already launched.
  1. Ask them for ideas: What kinds of products or services would they like you to offer?

You can also send more email and be quite helpful when you send:

  1. Reminders about renewal dates, deadlines, sales, and when product is about to run out and should be reordered.

Then there are the more creative reasons to send emails, including:

  1. In celebration of an unusual holiday. Imagine the fun if your customers caught you celebrating Ferret Day, Tiara Day or Get Caught Reading Month, all of which take place during May. If you need ideas for unusual holidays to turn into reasons to send emails, try the Days of the Year
  1. Send a happy anniversary from the day they first subscribed or purchased. This is a chance to show appreciation for their patronage, and maybe re-engage them if they haven’t been engaged in a while. Plus it shows you’re paying attention!
  1. Speaking of re-engaging, “We miss you” emails can be very creative and can also be done as a series.
  1. You can also give them seasonal ideas that might or might not be related to what you’re selling. These can be summer yard care tips or ideas of Mother’s Day gifts…it should be something that’s at least a little bit connected to your business, but it should primarily be useful, helpful and seasonal.
  1. Tell them about upcoming events of interest, whether yours or someone else’s. Perhaps the nonprofit your business gives to is doing a fundraising event, or there’s a movie coming out that has some kind of connection to your business. Turn it into an inbox excuse!
  1. Tell them about something that happened, like opening a new store or branch office, or winning an award. These can be very engaging—not boring—emails if done right! People like to know whom they’re doing business with after all.
  1. And then there’s the “Just because…” email. What if—for no reason whatsoever—you sent an email just because, and you offered them a free download or a discount or you sent them a funny cartoon or video link? No sales pitch, not strings, just because you thought they’d enjoy the “just because…”

These are only ideas to get your creative juices flowing. There are probably as many reasons to send emails as there are subscribers, so go ahead and start brainstorming some today…and find a few more reasons to show up in that inbox in a way people will appreciate.

 

Gerald MarshallGerald Marshall is Head of Operations at Email Industries, the folks behind Indiemark and BlackBox.